The world lost a master teacher on Nov. 22, 2017, when James Thomas (Jim) Nerdin died after a valiantly fought battle with brain disease.
Jim is remembered fondly by his children and countless other students for his uncanny knack for teaching.
From youth to adults, Jim loved to share the knowledge he gained through study, work, and by simply having a willingness and desire to try new things. It's impossible to list all the ways he taught, or the number of lives he influenced through his teaching.
Jim was a math teacher at school but his teachings extended far beyond math to things such as wood-working and furniture building, basketball, camping, tennis, construction, yard work, chopping wood, public speaking, gospel principles, fulfilling priesthood duties, how to make dinner from random leftovers and above all, hard work.
Jim had a witty sense of humor and was a big jokester even through his last months struggling with his health. He passed this quality on to his sons while always making sure they didn't do anything to disrespect his wife and their mother.
Friends and fellow church members remember Jim for his strong handshake, ready smile, and eagerness to serve others.
Jim is survived by wife, Connie; children, Eric (Kari) Nerdin, Julie (Doug) Hill, Laurie Nerdin, Jeff (Michelle) Nerdin, Robb (Stacey) Nerdin, Matt (Karen) Nerdin, Keith (Carley) Nerdin, Jamee (David) Shipp; sister, Garthia (Neil) Anderson; brother, Ray (Kathy) Nerdin; 32 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Jim was preceded in death by parents, Garth and Violet Nerdin; sister, Nancy Ferrel; and grandson, Riley J. Nerdin.
Jim was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on April 30, 1939, and grew up in Port Orchard, Wash. He attended Frank Gibbons elementary school and graduated from South Kitsap High School in 1957. Jim received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from University of Washington, a teaching certificate from Brigham Young University (1969) and a master’s degree in computer science from University of Oregon (1976).
Jim married his childhood friend, Connie Dewey, on Dec. 28, 1963, and they raised their eight children together in Washington, North Dakota, Utah and Oregon.
Jim was a dedicated teacher and school administrator. He began his career in education at Crane Union High School (1971-1978), where he taught math and chemistry and served as vice- principal. He served as superintendent-principal at Wheeler County High School (1978-1979), and as principal at Sherman County High School (1979-1985), where he also taught math. Jim served as superintendent-principal at Helix High School (1985-1992), as superintendent at Harrisburg High School (1992-1999), and as superintendent at Sheridan High School (1999-2001). Jim coached volleyball and was the first ever girls’ basketball coach at Crane Union High School. He also coached boys’ basketball at Sherman County High School and girls’ basketball at Helix and College Place.
After retiring from education, Jim founded JimCo Mortgage Field Service, which he ran until his full retirement in 2003.
Jim was a dedicated member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served multiple full-time missions. He served as a young man in the Finland Helsinki Mission (1960-1962) and later served with his wife Connie in the Nigeria Ibaden Mission (2003-2004), in the Arizona Tucson Mission (2004-2005), doing genealogical work as part of the Norwegian Project (2007-2008), and as temple missionaries in the New York Palmyra Mission (2011-2013).
Most recently Jim served as a member of the High Priest Group leadership in the Walla Walla Second Ward of the LDS church.
In addition to his career and church service, Jim worked a variety of hands-on jobs, including construction, roofing, hanging drywall, thinning forest trees and working at a grain elevator. Jim was also an accomplished woodworker and furniture maker and enjoyed hiking, reading, camping, canoeing and writing. He authored a book of family history entitled “They Will Not Depart From It” (a reference to Proverbs 22:6) and a modern western novel entitled “Frozen in Time,” as well as other essays and articles. Many of these pursuits are also pursued by Jim’s children and grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at the LDS church 1821 South 2nd Ave. Walla Walla, Wash., on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, at 11 a.m. A graveside service will immediately follow at Blue Mountain Memorial Gardens at 300 SE Myra Road in College Place, Wash. Funeral and graveside services are being coordinated by Colonial Dewitt Funeral Home.
As Jim was fond of saying, we now say to him: "Have fun storming the castle, Dad!"
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